Raising money to support veteran flights to Washington DC
The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain. Earl was working at a VA clinic in Ohio when then the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C was finally completed and dedicated in May of 2004. Earl repeatedly asked his veteran patients if they would ever travel out to visit their memorial. But, for most of these senior heroes in their eighties, it simply wasn’t financially or physically possible for them to make the journey on their own.
That’s when Earl decided to do something to help. In addition to being a physician assistant, Earl was also a private pilot and a member of one of our nation’s largest and best aero clubs located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In December of 2004, Earl asked one of his World War II veteran patients if it would be all right if Earl personally flew him out to D.C., free of charge, to visit his memorial. Mr. Loy broke down and cried. He told Earl that at his age he would probably never get to see his memorial otherwise, and graciously accepted the offer.
Earl posed the same question to a second World War II veteran a week later. He, too, cried and enthusiastically accepted the trip. It didn’t take long for Earl to realize that there were many veterans who would have the same reaction. So he started asking for help from other pilots to make these dreams a reality. There were two major stipulations to his request. The first was that the veterans pay nothing. The entire aircraft rental ($600 to $1200 for the day) would have to be paid solely by the pilots. The second was that the pilots personally escort the veterans around D.C. for the entire day. Eleven pilots who had never met his patients stepped up to volunteer. And Honor Flight was born.
In May of 2005, six small planes flew 12 very happy veterans out to the World War II Memorial. The responses from both the veterans and the pilots were overwhelming. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to their memorial. Sited – Stars and Stripes Website
Stars and Stripes – Milwaukee-based Honor Flight
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was started by Joe Dean and a merry band of volunteers, after Dean had seen a brief national news segment (See National Honor Flight Story below). Joe recalls thinking, “someone should do this in Wisconsin.” The next day Dean, son of a WWII Hero (David Dean, US Navy), woke up with one overwhelming thought: “Oh man, I should do this in Wisconsin!”
Badger Honor Flight – Madison-based Honor Flight
Badger Honor Flight is a regional affiliate of the national Honor Flight Network. The purpose of the Honor Flight Network is to ensure that WWII and terminally ill veterans from any war have the opportunity to see the memorials that have been erected in their honor. The Honor Flight Network provides all amenities to the veterans, including all transportation, meals and lodging. Everything is free to the veterans because of how much they have sacrificed for this great country already. The only money veterans need is if they want to buy a souvenir for themselves.